many are strange to say the least. It does seem that the smart attracts nutters.
I have been to the North West smarties meet and I was the only one without an accent, nice people, more
interested in food than the cars it seems though. Funniest person there was definitely Phil (phildeperv), sick man.
Central Southern meet was another trek out into crossbreed-ville but they were a nice bunch, probably the
only ones in a 50 mile radius whose Mum's and Dad's weren't brother and sister. Gav and Justin were a
funny team, Gav can talk about smarts all night and Justin can rant about 80's board games like a pro.
Billing was a big disappointment, loads of people, all staying in their own groups. Loads of missing stalls and sod all
to do. Got sunburnt and was kept up most of the night by the noisy Scots. (Sam and BB, you know who you are).
Which leads me to the Kent meet, the meet closest to me and the one I continuously missed without
fail every month. At first it didn't really appeal to me, they had known each other for a long time and
both the websites seemed quite cliquey but eventually I went along to see what was going on. Apart
from the pub smelling like a cross between 1000 laser printers going full pelt and open heart surgery
it was a nice place. The people there are wide ranging and just about safe to be let out on their own.
Alan from T1ny.tv was there (his car is mad), he is like a mad scientist with absolutely no fear
and a heap of talent. Tiny and myself meet up regularly to brainstorm crazy schemes.
The Kent meet became the Evilution monthly discussion meet where we all came up with crazy
time consuming plans for the site that OTV eventually has to spend hours working on, poor guy.
This meet moved a few times before coming to an end when myself and OTV moved to Essex.
S2Smarts are always great meets. Myself and OTV attend almost all of these and quite often
trade a few goods as Smartmods. These are either open days with BBQs or an evening session
where you can learn about specifics such as general maintenance or modifications.
This is me at Billing. When Tom from Spotty Badger said he wanted to give me face make-up for a photo shoot for a smart calendar I wasn't very convinced, by the time he was ready to start I had supped a few too many beers and it seemed a great idea. Took about 15 minutes to put on and 2 hours of scrubbing to get off.
It's quite a good look for me I think, the people also camping at the same site certainly thought
so when I was in the toilet block trying to get the make-up off. Everytime I started taking it off
people kept stopping me so they could go get a friend.
OK, this is me without the make-up, I can assure you, this is how I usually look (not normally in Berlin though).
I'm glad it was taken in black and white as I was rather sunburnt that day.
Born May 26th 1975 in a hospital in London. The hospital was on the Crayford and Erith border so in its time
it was classed as either London or Kent. It was destroyed and replaced by flats as most things are these days.
Hated school, hated university, just generally hated people trying to teach me stuff. I could teach myself things very easily and enjoyed doing so. I'd always been very "hands on" and was always taking things apart when I was young.
I very rarely cried as a baby, I just laid there. At 6 months I was diagnosed as being bored so I was given countless things to keep me interested, things I could make, break and do. My Dad and his brothers were all professional tradesmen, they'd have a go at plumbing, wiring, glazing, building, pretty much anything that involved tools.
When I was 1 I was a few breaths away from dying of carbon monoxide poisoning when the heater in my parents house blocked up. I was blue when I was taken from the house but pulled through.
I started off the same, working in a DIY store on the checkouts. Man I hated that job, I wanted to be on the shop floor learning, helping and building things. Luckily that happened and for 10 years I worked for most DIY store chains in the UK, on the shop floor and as a manager although managing others was never my strong point.
In my spare time I would code, hack and crack computer games on the Amiga.
In 2000 I passed my driving test at the age of 25. I know that's late but I didn't need to drive before then.
My first car was a 1996 Fiat Punto Sporting 1.6 and considering it was a Fiat, it was really quite reliable.
I got into cars in a big way, learnt as much as I could about the Punto and modified mine.
It was the same year I first saw the smart, it was in a magazine and I knew I wanted one.
I went to a dedicated smart dealer (remember those) in London and stood staring at a city coupe for hours, I really wanted one. I tried to get credit for one but was refused as I had no credit score at all. I had no loans and no credit cards so I was an unknown risk so they wouldn't let me have one. This setback wouldn't stop me.
When the smart started appearing in the UK in RHD in 2001 I started paying more attention. I got on the forums and started learning everything I could about them as I wanted knowledge for when I owned one. What I immediately noticed was the distinct lack of basic knowledge about cars in general. Stuff I had previously learned about my 1st car was still very relevant to the smart. I realised that people thought the smart was unlike anything else out there when it's really just packaged differently. People who owned them were 1st time modifiers being lead by people who didn't really have much of a clue. It wasn't unusual for a group of people to talk through a problem or idea on the forums and end up at a conclusion that was clearly wrong. These errors became facts the more they were told.
In 2002 I went to my 1st smart meeting which was the opening of smart in Bluewater (Kent). Smart paid for us all to have food at Pizza Express which was nice. I met a lot of people who owned smarts and also met the guy who ran smart at the time. It was around the time they had announced the Roadster so I spoke to him about that a lot.
By the end of the meet I was adamant that I was going to get a smart and after talking to the prolific modifiers on the smart scene, I was pretty damn sure I had more knowledge and could make an impact in the smart world.
And So It All Began
In late 2002 I left my last DIY store and started work as a technician on the railway. The job was better, the toys were bigger and I could really push myself to solve engineering problems, not just DIY issues. Most importantly, the pay was better so just over a year later in early 2004 I had saved up enough to go and buy a brand new right hand drive 700cc smart pulse. I had been speaking to a guy who worked at the smart dealer down the road to me and he told me what price I could haggle down to and what I could get thrown in for free. So I did.
£6200 later and I drove away happy in my new smart pure with plenty of ideas for what I was going to do.
As it was a new car for me to work on and no one else really knew anything about the car, I decided it was best if I documented everything I did with photos and a write up. All for my own personal use. It only took a few months for someone to find the website which I was surprised about. I had called it evilution which was my forum name from my Fiat Punto days. I hadn't put in any tags so I didn't expect anyone would find it with a web search.
Despite the site being terrible, only consisting of about 30 pages and created in Dreamweaver, it contained knowledge and ideas that smart owners hadn't considered. I had argued the positives for modified dump valves even though the "experts" had outright said they were bad for the smart (but couldn't explain why). I explained in simple to understand terms why a normal dump valve was bad and how it could be modified to suit the smart.
After that I examined all the other facts that had been set in stone by previous owners and set out to either confirm or deny these pieces of info but more importantly, explain my findings so that everyone could understand.
Early in 2005, my girlfriend at the time (who also owned a smart) started talking to another smart owner about the website. Initially she just wanted ideas and help to make the site better but after a while, this guy said he would make the site. I wasn't convinced as I liked the idea of having all the pages saved on my PC but I gave him a chance and it turned out to be the best choice I have made. John (OTV) became an important addition to the site, a business partner and one of my few real friends.
Every year on average (except for a bad year from August 2009) I have managed to add 100 pages a year.
That works out to be 2 a week. Pages of info don't just appear, they take work so it's of no surprise that previous girlfriends soon get sick of me always doing something on the website, then they bugger off.
In 2007 I bought my first 451. A fortwo passion in all black, non turbo (before MHD). This allowed me to continue my work to cover the new car but I never really fell in love with it like I did with the previous model. I didn't feel like it had the soul. To me it was just a car. The 5 speed gearbox was 1 speed too few and the MPG was rubbish.
Not to mention that, despite being 71bhp, it felt slow compared to my 450 which had 61bhp as standard.
The Black Year
In 2009 my girlfriend left me which wasn't a great surprise. I spent a lot of time doing my site and she had changed into someone that didn't compliment my personality any more. The pluses that I took from it was she enrolled OTV into the team and had forced me to learn to spell, construct a sentence, use correct grammar and punctuation.
I met someone else, she had issues and left (2 weeks).
I moved out of my house that had a garage and back into my Mum's house (loft) which didn't have a garage.
So for the next year, very little was added to the website simply because I had no room to play with the
car and I just couldn't be fucking bothered. Nothing interested me at all. All I did was sleep and work.
I moved to Braintree in Essex for a while in 2010 which is when I bought a Roadster coupe from a guy in Norfolk.
I rented 2 separate garages and slowly started adding info to the site again. The commute to my place of work was way too far so I moved to a cottage in Boreham near Chelmsford. It was much closer and had a double garage.
I signed up for a new doctor and went in for a check up, everything was fine. I'd been reading about Aspergers and Autism and a lot of the symptoms rang true so I asked to take an AQ test and scored a 36. So, I have autism of some kind, which explains a lot. However, I have learned to function quite normally as weirdos get bullied at school.
In April 2011 I bought my all white 451 turbo cabrio. It had been on order since December 2010 when I read
about their intention of doing a white tridion. It was the 1st all white 451 delivered to a customer in the UK.
I sold the non turbo 451 to Rob at S2smarts for him to use as a courtesy car.
In November 2011 a Polish lorry driver pulled into the side of my turbo cabrio on the M25.
I then went and bought a 451 CDI (45 bhp) for 2 reasons. Firstly I needed a courtesy car, secondly, the
contract on the turbo cabrio stated a yearly mileage of 12,000 miles, 36,000 miles over the 3 year contract.
I was doing 34,000 miles a year so after 3 years I would have been stung for about £8000 if I wanted
to hand the car back. It made sense to just buy a diesel and save on fuel and wear & tear on the cabrio.
In November 2012 I moved again, on my own and much closer to work. Still in Essex but a nice area called Orsett.
This house has a workshop in the garden, approximately the same size as a triple garage. This allows me plenty of room to play. The main problem was, living on your own in a nice area isn't cheap so although I had the room to perform weird and wonderful new things to teach people how to fix their cars, I didn't have the money to do anything. The site was updated with whatever I could afford to do just to keep it fresh.
In mid 2016 I was messed around by my landlord. 2 years previously I had shown an interest in buying the house
and he said he'd give me the option to buy it in 2 years. When that time came around he started fixing the
garden fences and buying a new cooker etc. Not things you'd do if you were interested in selling.
Within 2 months I had found a place to buy and had moved. It wasn't ideal as it had a single pre-cast garage
with a huge hole in the roof. I made do without a garage for a few months before finding a decent builder to
construct the biggest workshop I could afford. In December 2016, that was completed. Currently it's January
2017 and it's far too cold to be painting the walls and running electrics. However, at least all of the
boxes of my things are accessible so at least I can find things in order to add stuff to the site.
Gimme All Your Money
For years, the only 2 people I really classed as friends at the time kept saying I should charge a subscription fee to use the site. I just couldn't imagine that anyone would do that. I never really thought that the info on the site was that good, especially considering that a lot of what I had done was now in the public domain.
Early 2013, myself and OTV began talking about the best way to fund the site. Running adverts wasn't
really working any more as people just weren't renewing. The only option was a yearly subscription.
So in September 2013 we started charging. Initially we looked at doing it on April 1st but the coding over ran.
Since then, I haven't looked back. We have had enough subscribers to move the site onto a dedicated smart server, buy tools and parts to add bench testing of parts to the site and to start saving up for another car.
Obviously I don't know the future but the plan is to carry on working, sleeping and playing with smarts.
Initially I would/could only add things if I was going to do something or if something broke and needed fixing.
Luckily now I have 1 or 2 spare cars that don't mind being taken apart for no real reason (I asked them, they are OK with it). As long as I always have a working car to get to work in, I'm happy.
Apart from the obvious new fixes and repairs, I'm going to take new photos to replace the older photos which were
smaller, lower resolution and generally a poorer quality. Older photos had been edited with shit software too.
And that's where we are so far. January 2017.